Entries in Civilian Casualties (9)


NATO Airstrike in Afghanistan Kills Children

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SHIGAL, Afghanistan) -- As many as ten children and two women are reported to have been killed after a NATO air strike in Shigal, in eastern Afghanistan, according to a report from BBC News.

A local official said the Nato strikes were called in to support an operation by U.S. and Afghan forces targeting senior Taliban commanders in the area.

The official said the strike killed eight Taliban members, but it also reportedly killed twelve women and children civilians, and wounded six additional women.

The NATO-led International Security Assistant Force (ISAF) said that it was “aware of reports of several civilians injured from the engagement, but no reports of civilian deaths.” Photographers from international news agencies dispatched to the scene took pictures that appeared to show the bodies of several dead children.

“ISAF takes all reports of civilian casualties seriously, and we are currently assessing the incident,” the ISAF said in a statement.

A NATO airstrike in the same area of February of last year killed at least 10 civilians, mostly women and children.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan Down for First Time in Six Years

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The number of civilians who died in Afghanistan has dropped for the first time in six years, according to the latest findings from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

The U.N. report, released on Tuesday, found that 2,754 civilians were killed last year -- a 12 percent decrease from 2011.

The decline in casualties is due in part to:

  • Less ground fighting among parties involved in the conflict
  • A decrease in suicide bombings
  • Fewer aerial attacks
  • Steps taken by pro-government forces to minimize harm to civilians

Despite the drop in civilian deaths, the number of people injured rose 9 percent in 2012 to 4,805.

"The situation for civilians is still very difficult in many communities.  And many thousands of Afgans are affected by the armed conflict," says Georgette Gagnon, a U.N. human rights official.

"We are again calling on all concerned to redouble their efforts, increase their efforts, to protect civilians," Gagnon adds.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Afghan Officials Say NATO Airstrike Killed at Least Eight Women

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Officials in Afghanistan say at least eight women were killed in a NATO airstrike in the country's eastern province of Laghman, the BBC reports.

NATO has admitted that five to eight civilians have died in the strike that targeted insurgents, and offered condolences to the community. Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the deaths and sent officials to investigate the incident, the BBC says.

At least seven women were also reported to have been injured in the attack, and Lagham's health director said that some were girls as young as 10 years old, according to the BBC.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Afghan Civilian Casualties Drop in 2012

Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- For the first time since 2007, the number of civilian casualties in the Afghanistan war has fallen.

According to figures compiled by the United Nations, there was a drop of more than 20 percent in deaths from January through April this year compared to the same period in 2011.

If the numbers are accurate, they could help ease tensions between the coalition and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai who've long been at odds over the use of air strikes and night raids to go after the Taliban and its allies.

U.N. special representative for Afghanistan Jan Kubis said Wednesday that the Taliban was to blame for 79 percent of the 579 civilians killed during the first four months of 2012, with NATO and Afghan forces responsible for nine percent.  That also represents a decrease since the coalition and national forces accounted for 14 percent of civilian deaths in 2011.

It's unclear what caused the remaining casualties.

If this pattern holds, the death toll of Afghan civilians could be well under the 3,021 killed in 2011.´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


White House Declines Comment on Afghan Civilian Deaths

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House refrained from offering an on-the-record comment Tuesday about a U.S. airstrike Friday in Afghanistan that accidentally killed six innocent civilians, including five children.

Obama administration officials said the Pentagon and the International Security Assistance Force normally handle such incidents, though the administration “obviously has sought to reduce civilian casualties.”

Pentagon spokesman Captain John Kirby said NATO does everything it can to prevent civilian casualties.

“We work very, very hard not to cause collateral damage or civilian casualties, exceptionally hard,” Kirby said. “And when it happens as tragic as it is, it’s by mistake, it’s an accident.”

When they occur, he said, “we own up to it, we take responsibility, we investigate it.”  He countered the coalition’s position with the Taliban, whom he said “do it wantonly, recklessly, sometimes with the intent to cause harm to civilians, and they don’t take it anywhere near as seriously. ”

Kirby said ISAF commander Gen. John Allen had met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and had taken responsibility “for the casualties that we caused.” He said “we take each one very, very seriously. They’re all a tragedy.”

In March, 120 members of ISAF, the Afghan government, and other groups convened the third Civilian Casualty Conference to talk about ways to reduce civilian deaths.

Allen declared that “preventing civilian casualties is a top priority....We have worked hard to take extensive measures to prevent civilian casualties, and those efforts are getting results.”

Civilian casualties came at a time when Allied planes flying over Afghanistan have dropped fewer bombs in Afghanistan. According to statistics compiled by the Air Force, through the end of April, coalition aircraft released weapons 654 times this year, just under half the 1,247 weapons released during that same time period in 2011.

At the Civilian Casualty Conference, Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw, ISAF deputy commander, noted that in the previous four months, “insurgents have caused 93 percent, or 958 civilian casualties,” mostly with improvised explosive devices. “In the same period of time, seven percent, or 72 civilian casualties, regrettably, were caused by ISAF forces,” he added. “It is important to note though that compared to the same period of time last year, ISAF-caused civilian casualties have been reduced by 65 percent.”

Allen said that one Afghan civilian casualty caused by ISAF forces is too many.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NATO Admits to Afghan Civilian Deaths in Two Assaults on Taliban

U.S. State Department(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- NATO is once again on the hot seat in Afghanistan after acknowledging Thursday that a number of women and children died when the coalition targeted Taliban fighters earlier this week.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently demanded that NATO stop its airstrikes against homes where civilians might live.  He said that if the coalition persisted in launching these assaults, his government would take "unilateral action" to prevent them.

Karzai has not yet remarked on the latest incidents in Khost and Ghazni, two provinces in eastern Afghanistan.

According to NATO officials, troops in Khost called in an airstrike when they came under fire from insurgents of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network.  While the war jets killed the enemy fighters, "a number of associated family members" also died in the attack.

One local Afghan official reported that three women and six children were killed.

In the second incident, a NATO war jet struck a suspected insurgent planting a roadside bomb.  However, the strike also left two shepherds dead.

Afghan protests followed both incidents, calling for American forces to leave Afghanistan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


NATO Denies Responsibility for More Civilian Deaths in Libya

NATO(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- NATO is denying reports that it was responsible for an airstrike west of Tripoli Monday that allegedly killed at least 15 civilians.

The Libyan government is claiming that coalition forces struck a family compound that belongs to a close associate of Col. Moammar Gadhafi and that three children were among those who died.

The associate, Khoweildi al-Hamidi, helped bring Gadhafi to power four decades ago and is the father-in-law of one of the Libyan leader's sons.  The government says that al-Hamidi was unhurt in the alleged assault 40 miles west of Tripoli.

However, a NATO official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, declared that the alliance did not conduct any raids during the time that the compound was reportedly hit by rockets.

NATO had just acknowledged the day before that one of its missiles mistakenly struck a residential building in the capital that killed several people.  However, the coalition has rejected Libyan government claims that it is deliberately targeting civilians.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


NATO Says Errant Airstrike May Have Killed Civilians in Libya

U.S. State Department(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- NATO acknowledged late Sunday that one of its airstrikes in the Libyan capital of Tripoli may have killed civilians earlier in the day due to a "weapons system failure."

Libyan Foreign Minister Abdul-Ati al-Obeidi told reporters that nine civilians, including two children, were killed when NATO warplanes struck a residential village.  Libyan officials rushed Tripoli-based reporters to the scene of the building that was hit early in the morning, and escorted them back during the day.

Children's toys, teacups and dust-covered mattresses could be seen amid the rubble, as well as the bodies of at least four people said to have been killed in the strike.

"After [seeing the destroyed building], we were taken to Tripoli's central hospital," said BBC reporter Jeremy Bowen.  "A husband and wife and a baby, all dead, were in the mortuary.  Medical staff said they were killed in the attack.  Another dead baby was brought in.  Doctors were working on a man with a bad wound on his arm."

"Libyan officials said there were other casualties," Bowen said.  "The government spokesman said the attack had planted seeds of hatred."

The Libyan foreign minister called the bombing "deliberate" and said it should be "a direct call for all free peoples of the world and for all Muslims to initiate a global jihad against the oppressive, criminal West and never to allow such criminal organizations as NATO to decide the future of other independent and sovereign nations."

"NATO confirms that it was operating in Tripoli last night, conducting airstrikes against a legitimate military target," Wing Commander Mike Bracken said in a statement.  "NATO deeply regrets any civilian loss of life during this operation and would be very sorry if the review of this incident concluded it to be a NATO weapon."

NATO has repeatedly insisted it tries to avoid killing civilians.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Secretary Gates: Almost as if Some World Leaders Believe Gadhafi's Lies

Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Image(WASHINGTON) -- Meeting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Russian Minister of Defense Anatoly Serdyukov called for an immediate ceasefire in Libya.

“Unfortunately, the recent developments in the country demonstrate that it is experiencing real difficulties which result in destroying civilian facilities and killing civilians,” Serdyukov said. “This shouldn't have been -- this shouldn't have been let to be happen, and we informed our U.S. counterparts of our opposition, and we urge all belligerent parties to do their best to stop the violence, and we believe that an immediate ceasefire and a dialogue between the belligerent parties is the surest way to reliable security of civilians.”

Gates in response said “the coalition is going through great lengths to avoid civilian casualties and most of the targets are air defense targets isolated from populated areas. I also told him that I thought the significant military fighting that has been going on should recede in the next few days.”

The American defense secretary said he had assured his Russian counterpart “that the actions of the coalition were completely consistent with the UN Security Council resolution calling for the imposition of a no-fly zone and protecting civilian lives. The resolution of the Arab League and also of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which led to the Security Council resolution, were in fact in recognition that Colonel Gadhafi was killing large numbers of his own people.”

Gates later told reporters, “I’m a little curious, frankly, about the -- about the tone that has been taken.  It’s perfectly evident that the vast majority, if not nearly all, civilian casualties have been inflicted by Gadhafi.  Most of our targets, virtually all of our targets are isolated non-populated areas, air defense sites, SA-5s, 2s, 3s and so on. And we’ve been very careful about this.  And it’s almost as though some people here are taking at face value Gadhafi‘s claims about the number of civilian casualties, which as far as I’m concerned, are just outright lies.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

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